Course Syllabus

Please note that the specifics of this Course Syllabus are subject to change. Instructors will notify students of any changes and students will be responsible for abiding by them. Even if you print this syllabus, please check the online version often.


This is an introductory university-level course in computer systems literacy. The history, architecture and operation of computing systems and underlying computing theory are covered. The intent of this course is to ensure that students with diverse backgrounds can gain the information technology fundamental skills and understanding to succeed with subsequent in-depth courses in the Cybersecurity Analytics and Operations curriculum. At the same time the general nature of the introduction may make it useful for other programs that involve education in concepts and skills relating to information and computing systems.


  • None


In this course, students will become familiar with the components of a computer system, from a historical and theoretical perspective, as well as from a modern and practical perspective. The overall objective in this course is to give students confidence in multiple operating systems, so that they can become competent in the use of computer systems. Students in this course will be able to recognize computer components, install multiple operating systems, configure operating system security features, install and configure software, connect systems together across a network, and configure some server operating system components to manage security features.


  • TBA


  • Tomsho, G., (2020). Guide to Operating Systems (6th ed.) Cengage Learning. ISBN 9780357433836 (paperback) 9780357433959 (eBook)
    • Alternatively, you may purchase the Cengage Unlimited Subscription if you prefer.
    • You do NOT need the MindTap resources for the text. Please do NOT purchase them.
  • You will also need access to Practice Labs (voucher license purchase) to work on the Cyber 100 lab assignments within that platform.

Assignments & Grading

Your grade in this course will be derived from several assessment mechanisms. Peer evaluation points are based on completion of the peer evaluation. The awarding of group project points is based on the actual project content and the peer evaluations. In other words, group members in the same group may receive different group project points totals based on the peer evaluations and the quality/content of the group project. Adjustments to the initially awarded points total for a given group member will be made upon review of the peer evaluations.  Also, each quiz will contain questions related to the given chapter in the text, videos in the module, and outside materials in the module. As per university policy, all grading is done by instructors in a fair and consistent manner. This entails not giving preferential treatment in grading with regards to the timeliness, quantity, or quality of work submitted by any one student or group of students unless extra special circumstances warrant it and are approved by the instructor prior to submission. Students must realize that they earn a particular grade on a given assignment or exam and not that the instructor has determined such on his or her own without proper justification. Due to the subjective nature of some assignments, it is the instructor’s right to determine a grade based on his or her own evaluation of the timeliness, quantity, and quality of the student’s (or group’s) work.

Grading Category

Percentage of Final Grade

Possible Extra Credit Assignments (4) (if all are completed and receive full credit)


Chapter Quizzes (11)


Practice Labs-Based Lab Assignments - Includes graded lab report and lab quiz (7)


Non Practice Labs-Based Lab Assignments (3)


Research Papers


Team Semester Project


Peer Evaluation and Academic Integrity Acknowledgement


Take Home Final Project




Extra credit opportunities may become available during the semester. They will be announced in class.

Course Grading Scale

The following are minimum cutoffs for each grade:

  • 93% = A
  • 90% = A-
  • 87% = B+
  • 83% = B
  • 80% = B-
  • 77% = C+
  • 70% = C
  • 60% = D
  • less than 60% = F

Course Policies and Expectations

Amount of Time to be Invested by Students in the Class: University classes require a good deal more time than high school ones. Please see Link to get a sense of the amount of time you should be spending on this course. The instructor is "here" to assist you; but in the end, it is your work and effort that determines the grade in the class. There is a direct correlation between the amount of time spent and grades awarded.

Ethical Use of Course Content

The content provided in this course can be used for educational purposes to understand cyber security concepts and techniques. It can also be used for nefarious purposes. Students are expected to use the course content for their own edification only and shall not apply this knowledge except in the classroom, on specific systems (such as the virtual lab) and only for the purposes defined by the instructor.

Any use of the course’s content that is performed without expressed, written permission of the system’s owner may be in violation of Penn State University policies as well as local, state and federal laws. The instructor will cooperate fully with all university investigations and the requests of all law enforcement agencies in investigations against students in the course.

Late Work

Late work is unacceptable in the “real world”.  A due date is a due date.  However, I will accept work late, but I will assess a penalty of 20% for each day the work is turned in late up to a maximum of 4 days (on the 5th day late, the percentage goes to 100% and therefore the assignment will not be accepted).  

Use of Canvas

Students are expected to login regularly to check for course updates, announcements, emails, discussions, etc. Students are expected to use Canvas for all course email communication. Students are instructed to NOT email the instructor first, please check Canvas FIRST.

Technical Requirements

You will be required to utilize a number of technical systems to accomplish your goals in this course. All required hardware and software will be made available to you via Practice Labs (you must buy the subscripton). 

Group Project Peer Evaluations

The instructor reserves the right to adjust a student's group grades based on the peer evaluations from fellow group members. In particular, a pattern of poor evaluations from multiple group members would most likely result in some grade reduction.

Late Work and Attendance Exceptions

Late assignments be accepted without penalty under the unusual circumstances below.

Pre-approval for late submissions may be offered for official university travel (sports teams, clubs, etc.), religious observance and for out-of-town interviews for internships or jobs. Students can REQUEST one week prior to the class period by emailing “all course faculty” in Canvas.

For cases of extreme illness, injury or family emergency, students may request excused late submissions by emailing the instructor in Canvas, prior to the assignment’s due date, or in rare cases of significant life events.

Claims of technical system faults (Canvas, Personal Computer) are generally not acceptable.

Copyright Statement

All course materials students receive or to which students have access are protected by copyright laws. FOR COURSES IN WHICH THEY HAVE PREVIOUSLY BEEN OR ARE CURRENTLY ENROLLED, students may use course materials and make copies for their own use as needed, but unauthorized distribution and/or uploading of materials without the instructor’s express permission is strictly prohibited. Policy AD 40. (Recording of Classroom Activities and Note Taking Services) addresses this issue. Students who engage in the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials may be held in violation of the University’s Code of Conduct, and/or liable under Federal and State laws.

Policy on Students with Disabilities

Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University's educational programs. Every Penn State campus has an office for students with disabilities. The Student Disability Resources (SDR) website provides contact information for every Penn State campus: For further information, please visit Student Disability Resources:

In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, you must contact the appropriate disability services office at the campus where you are officially enrolled, participate in an intake interview, and provide documentation: If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus’s disability services office will provide you with an accommodation letter. Please share this letter with your instructors and discuss the accommodations with them as early in your courses as possible. You must follow this process for every semester that you request accommodations.


Many students at Penn State face personal challenges or have psychological needs that may interfere with their academic progress, social development, or emotional wellbeing. The university offers a variety of confidential services to help you through difficult times, including individual and group counseling, crisis intervention, consultations, online chats, and mental health screenings. These services are provided by staff who welcome all students and embrace a philosophy respectful of clients’ cultural and religious backgrounds, and sensitive to differences in race, ability, gender identity and sexual orientation.

Counseling and Psychological Services at University Park  (CAPS).
( 814-863-0395

Counseling and Psychological Services at Commonwealth Campuses. Penn State Crisis Line (24 hours/7 days/week): 877-229-6400
Crisis Text Line (24 hours/7 days/week): Text LIONS to 741741

Educational Equity and Reporting Bias

Penn State University has adopted a “Protocol for Responding to Bias Motivated Incidents." that is grounded in the policy that the “University is committed to creating an educational environment which is free from intolerance directed toward individuals or groups and strives to create and maintain an environment that fosters respect for others.” That policy is embedded within an institution traditionally committed to
academic freedom. Bias motivated incidents include conduct that is defined in University
Policy AD 91: Discrimination and Harassment, and Related Inappropriate Conduct. Students, faculty, or staff who experience or witness a possible bias motivated incident are urged to report the incident immediately by doing one of the following:

* Submit a report via the Report Bias webpage.
* Contact one of the following offices:

University Police Services, University Park: 814-863-1111
Multicultural Resource Center, Diversity Advocate for Students: 814-865-1773
Office of the Vice Provost for Educational Equity: 814-865-5906
Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs: 814-865-0909
Affirmative Action Office: 814-863-0471

* Dialing 911 in cases where physical injury has occurred or is imminent

Emergency Notifications

PSUAlerts is available at PSUAlerts is Penn State's emergency notification system for students, faculty and staff. The system will be used to alert members of Penn State's campus communities of emergencies, campus closings and other urgent information. Using this portal, students, faculty and staff can choose to receive PSUAlert messages by text message, voice message and e‑mail.

Academic Integrity

Penn State and the College of Information Sciences and Technology are committed to maintaining Penn State's policy on Academic Integrity in this and all other courses. We take academic integrity matters seriously and expect you to become a partner to the University/College standards of academic excellence.

For more information, please review these policies and procedures:

While utilizing additional sources outside of this class is encouraged for gaining a better understanding of course concepts, seeking explicit answers for graded assignments from outside sources (e.g. Course Hero, Chegg, tutoring services like, etc.) is considered CHEATING and will not be tolerated. Sanctions range from failure of the assignment or course to dismissal from the University. Additionally, sharing course content without permission is a violation of copyright and may result in university sanctions and/or legal ramifications. Contact your instructor with questions related to this topic. 

University Policies

Review current information regarding various Penn State policies (such as copyright, counseling, psychological services, disability and military accommodations, discrimination, harassment, emergencies, trade names, etc.) on the University Policies page.

Penn State takes great pride to foster a diverse and inclusive environment for students, faculty, and staff. Acts of intolerance, discrimination, or harassment due to age, ancestry, color, disability, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religious belief, sexual orientation, or veteran status are not tolerated and can be reported through Educational Equity via the Report Bias webpage (


Find extensive information and links to many Penn State and IST resources (including the Penn State libraries, video conferencing tools, technology and software, writing and research help, and much more) on the Resources page.

Technical Requirements

Standard World Campus computer technical specifications are assumed for this course. Please test your computer for requirements. In addition, a webcam and a headset with a microphone are REQUIRED for the course. These may be used for virtual meetings, virtual office hours, interactions with classmates and your instructor, and group presentations - which are all conducted with virtual meeting tools. No special software is required.


The following schedule outlines the topics covered in this course, along with the associated time frames, readings, activities, and assignments. All due dates reflect Eastern Time (ET). Specifying the time zone ensures that all students have the same deadlines, regardless of where they live.


© 2020 The Pennsylvania State University, College of Information Sciences and Technology 

Course Summary:

Date Details Due